City Desk

What Civil Rights Victory?

Can we still call Barack Obama's election a "civil rights victory" if the majority of black voters in California and Florida threw gays and lesbians under the bus?

From my colleague Radley Balko:

In California, the Proposition 8 ban on gay marriage actually failed among white voters, 51-49.  It was the 70 percent support from black voters that put the measure over the top.

Florida's ban would have passed among white voters 60-40.  But it passed among blacks 71-29....

Kind of a sad irony if in helping achieve one civil rights milestone, last night's historical black turnout also helped perpetuate state-sanctioned discrimination against gay couples who wish to marry.

From Andrew Sullivan:

Yes, it is heart-breaking: it is always hard to be in a tiny minority whose rights and dignity are removed by a majority. It's a brutal rebuke to the state supreme court, and enshrinement in California's constitution that gay couples are now second-class citizens and second class human beings. Massively funded by the Mormon church, a religious majority finally managed to put gay people in the back of the bus in the biggest state of the union. The refusal of Schwarzenegger to really oppose the measure and Obama's luke-warm opposition didn't help. And cruelly, a very hefty black turnout, as feared, was one of the factors that defeated us, according to the exit poll.

Historically, black voters who have overlapping allegiances to fundamentalist Christianity and progressive ideologies don't see voting against sodomites while citing institutional racism as a moral hazard.

But for some reason, I felt liked I'd been kicked in the gut when I saw the exit poll data.

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  • John

    For so many years, I've been a big supporter of the Black Community, and their fights for equality, and discrimination against their group.

    As a gay man, it will be very difficult for me to sincerely help the Black Community in their cause for total equality, knowing that a huge majority of their Community has thrown me and my group under the bus, by voting for Prop 8!

    This leaves a very bitter taste in my mouth! I guess they are only against discrimination, if it is against their own kind!

  • Amanda Hess

    Short answer: Yes, We Can.

  • Christopher Allen

    The statement "Florida’s ban would have passed among white voters 60-40" isn't entirely accurate. FL's constitution requires that all amendments must pass with greater than 60% of the majority. So the proposition would not have passed at all.

    This is a very disillusioning statistic and I find it hard to believe that a demographic that has been discriminated against would in turn do the same to someone else. Granted the ballot had worded the summary of the amendment in a way that was very misleading but I find it hard to believe such an overwhelming majority would have been confused by the summary.

    My prayers go out to all my friends who will now be discriminated against by this amendment. I only hope that this atrocity is not permanent and that it does not spread to other areas in the nation.

  • Amanda Hess

    Historically, Libertarian voters who have overlapping allegiances to fussy anti-voting tirades and progressive ideologies don’t see refusing to vote against anti-gay measures while citing institutional homophobia as a moral hazard.

  • Christopher Allen

    I like you Ms (or Mrs) Hess. Perhaps Mike will remember this in two years when there is another election (an election that won't have a president on the ballot I might add).

  • Sarah Bender

    As terrible as it is that these amendments passed, I don't think pointing fingers and placing discriminatory blame on any group of people is going to make the situation better. Just a thought.

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